Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19, 1862

April 19, 1862: Gen. Beauregard has gathered more troops and concentrated them at Corinth, Mississippi, expecting the victorious Federals to come down the road and capture this most vital of railroad junctions. Including the 14,000 troops that Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn has brought from Arkansas, the Southern force at Corinth numbers close to 50,000. Meanwhile, Gen. Henry W. Halleck arrives at Pittsburg Landing from St. Louis to personally take command of the combined field armies of Grant, Buell, and Pope, with the intention of mounted a push toward Corinth.

—In the Shenandoah Valley, Jackson is at Harrisonburg and is mindful of the approach of Gen. Banks’ Federal army several miles north at New Market. Jackson begins his march southeast, toward the narrow Luray Valley, squeezed between Massanutten Mountain and the Blue Ridge. He sends cavalry to burn bridges in order to prevent the Yankees from following.

—Gen. James Shields of the Union Army, who had defeated Jackson at Kernstown a month earlier, send this ebullient and overconfident report to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, by way of stumping for his own promotion and advancement to higher command:

WOODSTOCK, VA., April 20, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington:

Jackson is flying from this department. I assisted in conducting the movement against him the other day when he was driven from Mount Jackson and New Market, and saw that the moment he abandoned Rude's Hill, which is by far the strongest position in the Shenandoah Valley, he gave the whole valley up for lost. . . . I would respectfully suggest that my division, Blenker's division, and Abercrombie's and Geary's commands be united and consolidated as speedily as possible, to force their way toward Richmond. This movement, if followed up by General Sumner's command and the rest of the disposable troops on the Potomac, will relieve General McClellan, and contribute to the destruction of the rebel army and the capture of the rebel capital. I am ready to conduct this movement if you can get the Senate to pass at once upon my nomination, but confirmed or not by that body I am ready to lead or follow, whichever you may deem most advisable, and in acting thus will do everything in my power to vindicate your kindness and partiality for me and the generous confidence which the President and yourself have been pleased to place in me since I entered the service.

There are no troops needed at present in the Shenandoah Valley but those which are necessary to garrison the different posts. Williams' division is ample for this. I venture to make these suggestions knowing with what indulgence they will be received, whether they may strike you as practicable or not. If they should impress you favorably there is not a moment to lose. A rapid movement of this kind on the flank of the rebel army may help materially to hasten the defeat of that army and the overthrow of the rebel Government.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of profound gratitude and respect, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

—Kate Cumming, a nurse for the Army of Tennessee at Corinth, records this incident in her journal about the poor breeding of the Northern men:

I was shocked at what the men have told me about some dead Federals that they saw on the battle-field. They say that on the bands of their hats was written, "Hell or Corinth;" meaning, that they were determined to reach one of the places. Heaven help the poor wretches who could degrade themselves thus. I can not but pity them, and pray that God will turn the hearts of their living comrades. Can such a people expect to prosper? Are they really mad enough to think that they can conquer us—a people who shudder at such blasphemy; who, as a nation, have put our trust in the God of battles, and whose sense of the magnanimous would make us scorn to use such language?

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